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FIAA celebrates its 20th Anniversary

May 30, 2020
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2020 marks a special year for FIAA. 20 years ago, FIAA was established by the main Foreign Investors in Albania, thus turning into a reality their aspiration for the creation of such an organization in the country. The subsequent launch of FIAA was highly appreciated and welcomed by the Authorities, Business Community, as well as International Bodies present in Albania. Today, FIAA represents the most prominent foreign businesses operating in Albania originating from different geographies and active in various sectors of the economy.

There is no doubt that FIAA’s successes to become a highly reputable organization in Albania, has come a long way and is clear result of the commitment, efforts and trust of each and every member of the organization. Today, I am glad to see that we have built important and sustainable bridges of cooperation with important international organizations such as EBRD, IFC/WB, EU, IMF, UNDP as well as many diplomatic bodies.

When I go back throughout the years, I am proud to realize several milestones that FIAA has achieved during this way of accomplishing its mission. It is a great sense of fulfillment to have members which have been with us for 20 years and together we have seen each other growing and reaching numerous successes. During these years, the business life in the country hasn’t been always flourishing, and our Foreign Investors Network has gone through challenging moments. However, whatever the difficulties, FIAA has always succeeded to preserve its impartiality and political unbiasedness, which have been the cornerstones of making it a credible organization and trustful partner of foreign investors and international organizations in Albania.

Today, FIAA continues to be home to main foreign investors in the country, a place where knowledge and professionalism is shared, a place where information and views are exchanged and communicated to the Albanian business audience. Our tailor made events like Conferences, Exhibitions, Forums and Committees are a clear sign of such endeavors.

Contributing to a better investment environment has been the key drive for FIAA’s mission. At the same time, maintaining dialogue with the Authorities in a volatile political country like Albania has been even more challenging.

Finally, I would like to express my firm engagement that along with the Board of Directors, FIAA will strive to accomplish its mission even under current difficult circumstances caused by the pandemic situation. We will continue to serve and support our members by embracing new approaches for a more efficient work and better professional outcome, thus contributing to the improvement of the investment framework in the country where FIAA will be rightfully considered as the Partner of Foreign Investors.

 

By Marinela Jazoj

Executive Director

 

FIAA Your Partner for Sustainable Development in Albania

It’s time to promote and protect your business!

JOIN FIAA!

 

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Sudden changes in Inappropriate times

May 27, 2020
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Despite living in pandemic times and experiencing various difficulties, the private producers of hydro-energy with priority are faced with sudden developments in the Energy Regulation in Albania. Unfortunately, the small hydro power investors are not finding peace and long-term sustainability. Despite all the negotiations, consultations and the work done with the institutions in the last 5 years, there are other changes which are putting their investments in a pessimistic scenario.

The recent change of the Government decreased the Bonus by 10 % (from 1.3 to 1.2), through an unexpected decision, taken by the Council of Ministers regarding the DCM adopted on 13 May 2020, to amend the DCM No. 687., dated 22.11.2017 “On the approval of the Methodology for determining the annual purchase price of electricity, which will be paid to existing producers with priority”.

In addition, this industry is having some other issues due to the recently imposed tariff from several Municipalities, called “The Environmental Protection and Improvement Fee”, which is illegal, disproportionate and has not been at all consulted with the interest groups. This practice is applied by several municipalities in Albania at different levels, and is becoming an issue, due to the no proportional method, the local authorities are imposing to the hydro power investments. This practice has been intensively addressed to the highest Authorities in the country.

FIAA together with AREA have engaged intensively with the Authorities and are working to find solutions involving also the Energy Secretariat in Vienna, aiming to review the DCM and prevent other harmful changes in the law, as well as restore dialogue and trust between the Government and investors in this sector.

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FIAA Board of Directors discusses how to cope and be effective in the Covid-19 situation during the Zoom Board Meetings

May 20, 2020
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The Board of FIAA has been following carefully the economic situation created by the pandemic and has tried to bring out main industry concerns of the members and addressed them to the authorities. Several virtual meetings have been conducted during April and May and continuous communication has been kept with the members directly by the Chairman. The Chairman of FIAA has also sent officially the main concerns on the main industries and raised the importance of gradual Opening of the economy.

The Board of FIAA has stressed out the importance of sectoral analysis and the continuity of communication, not only with the Members, but also with the Authorities. As such, it was sent a letter to the authorities with feedback from FIAA members.

Some of the issues identified in consultation with our Members have been the following:

  1. Suggest for increasing the volume of the guarantee for liquidity capital to other industries (except Tourism, production and facon).
  2. Bring up again the need for speeding up VAT Reimbursement, especially for those industries which are in immediate need for liquidity and the state owns to them big amounts of VAT for a long time.
  3. Suspend VAT payments in respect to the overdue invoices; in this moment, the State cannot ask the private companies to anticipate money that the latter have not received yet. Business cannot finance the State, the State should help the business.
  4. Postpone the relevant tax payment to all sectors that were affected by the crisis. In particular Mining, Oil and Gas, and related companies, given the fact that these companies have suspended/slowed operation due to the lack of demand and low prices in the global markets.
  5. Ask for transparency on the supporting schemes for employees in different sectors in Albania for those receiving reduced salaries or no salaries at all, and come up with a plan supporting consultancy companies as well. The professional services have to also be considered. The Government has to come up with a financial plan for this category (law firms, accounting firms, general consulting firms, notaries, bailiffs, etc.)
  6. Reduce bureaucracy when dealing with administration, double taxation procedures and requirements to foreign customers when outsourcing their activities in Albania.
  7. Apply No penalties/interest charges for late payments on taxes and maybe arranging settlement agreement between business and tax authorities for late payments.“ and “No collateral requests from banks in case of loan application”.
  8. Coordinate better with local authorities and central government in supporting business in rural areas, where are mostly located the extractive industries.
  9. Stimulate the internal consumption by helping SME-s and self-employed (farmers) with very low interest credits to all parts of the chain. This should be done through mechanisms like Agro-Funds/SME-Funds, treated with nearly 0% interest.
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FIAA actions during COVID – 19

April 16, 2020
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During the last weeks, FIAA has been following with serious concern the situation created by the lock down and measures imposed to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 throughout Albania.

FIAA is aware that the business is living in critical moments and from many contacts with most of its members, FIAA has understood that this emergency situation has caused an unprecedented impact on their daily business. Business community is very concerned not only due to the current situation, but most of all from the uncertainty of the future.  The main issue being faced now is how to deal with work force and related costs, and also with payments to be made to the state budget and to third party suppliers. This is even of a bigger concern for those businesses that are completely locked down, therefore, FIAA has continuously asked for the Government’s attention and requested their intervention.

After continuous communication with the Government of Albania, on April 14th, FIAA was represented by its Chairman in the Investment Council and had the opportunity to contribute with proposals for addressing this situation directly to Minister Denaj and other participants from International Organizations and Business.

FIAA’s proposals in the Investment Council Meeting 

  • FIAA thinks that a gradual startup of the economy is the best possible “medicine”for all businesses affected by the lock down, and the restart of the economy will help all sectors as it will give oxygen to all our lungs, and bring the revenues back which we are lacking at this very moment. The restart of the economy needs to take into consideration the public health since any sudden increase of the number of infections would trigger the reintroduction of stringent measures.

In the meantime GoA has announced a number of support measures, the latest ones on April 13th, 2020.

  • Since March, many sectors are heavily hit, many businesses are completely locked down and in a very tense liquidity situation. A large portion of the staff of these businesses are left virtually without work, although they remain employed by their companies as most businesses presume that the lock down will only take some months.

However, in many cases the liquidity situation does not allow to pay full salaries any more, as no employer knows how long this situation will continue. FIAA’s concern is for the financial situations of the many employees affected.

FIAA proposes to GoA to consider introducing a short work support scheme like in many EU countries. Such scheme would mean paying to the employees for a period of three months 30% of their salaries and the social security associated with such 30%. This would limit the damage for the employees and help to preserve a minimum purchase power.

Specific Sector comments represented by the Foreign Investors Association:

  • The Textile Sector is helped by a rapid switch to the production of masks. FIAA thanks Minister Ahmetaj for addressing this to the EU and for establishing any potential contact.
  • The Oil Production Industry is in greatest difficulty due to a complete crash of demand resulting in a severe liquidity situation.
  • An accelerated VAT Reimbursement would help all businesses in Albania, but in particular those which are closed completely. In addition, FIAA thinks that other measures may be considered.
  • So far, Tax Prepayments are based on the profit of the previous year. This creates a problem, even if tax payments have been postponed as was announced on April 13th.  For the vast majority 2019 has been a great year, but in 2020 revenues are heavily reduced since middle of March. To make prepayments based on pre-year profits is a heavy burden. Help on this will be appreciated. In addition, the volume of sovereign guarantee offered by GoA so far may be too tight to cover the demand for loan guarantees.
  • Air Transport is currently completely shut down except for cargo traffic, but air transport is also hugely important for getting the economy going again, since not only airlines and airport depend on an open sky, but also the hotel and tourism sector need the air travel to survive. Without the air passengers the situation will continue to be depressed for tourism. Obviously, the reopening of air transport has to be done with the greatest precautions to avoid the re-import of the virus which we are fighting so well in Albania. And it requires not only the willingness of GoA to reopen the skies, but also of the Governments of all other partner countries, in particular the European Union have to agree to open the sky. It is worth working internationally on the reopening of the skies. The moment Mother Tereza Airport will reopen for scheduled passenger flights will be a great moment for the whole Albanian economy, the decisive signal that we have made it through the crisis.
  • Finally, a suggestion how Tourism, Hotel Sector, Airlines and Airport can be greatly helped: If GoA would consider suspending for a period of one and a half years, until October 2021, the Border Crossing Tax of 10 EUR per departing passenger this will take a big financial burden away and greatly help the recovery not only of this sector but set an important signal for the whole economy.

 

Please read here:  Business requests by FIAA in cooperation with Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry

 

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FIAA’s Chairman participates in the Albanian Investment Council Meeting with the Minister of Finance

April 16, 2020
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On 14th of April, the Investment Council organized an extraordinary Zoom teleconferencing meeting to discuss on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business in Albania, focusing on the financial and economic measures taken by the government to cope with the consequences of the pandemic, main business concerns, including as well potential measures to be taken in the near future.

FIAA was represented by its chairman Mr. Constantin von Alvensleben, who, together with the other business organizations participants, have urged to the government to take meaningful support measures. The requests mainly extended to: unemployment, fiscal relieves at central and local government level (e.g. timely VAT reimbursement and alleviation of penalties by the tax administration), liquidity and subventions for the re-boost of specific sectors such as the agro-industry. For certain industries, measures need to be taken for the companies to avoid employee lay-offs, including options for reshaping penalty requirements which should be mitigated during this period.

Below, there is a set of recommendations that FIAA has addressed to the Government of Albania:

FIAA thinks that a gradual startup of the economy is the best possible “medicine” for all businesses affected by the lock-down, and the restart of the economy will help all sectors, as it will give oxygen to all our lungs, and bring the revenues back which we are lacking at this very moment. The restart of the economy needs to take into consideration the public health since any sudden increase of the number of infections would trigger the reintroduction of stringent measures.

  • Textile sector, which is helped by a rapid switch to the production of masks.
  • Oil production industry is in great difficulty due to a complete crash of demand resulting in a severe liquidity situation.
  • An accelerated VAT reimbursement would help all businesses in Albania, but in particular those which are closed completely. In addition, we think that other measures may be considered.
  • Tax prepayments are based on the profit of the previous year, such creating a problem, even if tax payments have been postponed in time. For the vast majority 2019 has been a great year, but in 2020 revenues are heavily reduced since middle of March. To make prepayments based on pre-year profits is a heavy burden. In addition, the volume of sovereign guarantee offered by GoA so far, may be too tight to cover the demand for loan guarantees.
  • Tourism (hotel sector, airlines and airport) are severely affected by the complete lock-down. Any supporting measures and schemes by the Government will be fundamental.
  • Air transport is currently completely shut down except for cargo traffic, but air transport is also hugely important for getting the economy going again, since not only airlines and airport depend on an open sky, but also the hotel and tourism sector need the air travel to survive! Without the air passengers the situation will continue to be depressed for tourism. Obviously, the reopening of air transport has to be done with the greatest precautions to avoid the re-import of the virus, which we are fighting so well in Albania.
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Mr. Constantin von ALVENSLEBEN, CEO of Tirana International Airport is elected the New Chairman to lead the Foreign Investors Association of Albania

February 26, 2020
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The Foreign Investors Association of Albania (FIAA) on February 26th held its Annual Assembly Meeting. In this meeting there were presented the main activities and the work program of the association along with the main challenges of its 2020 Agenda.

During this Meeting, the Assembly of Members elected the President of FIAA along with the new members to the Board of Directors that will lead the Association in the next two years.

The New Managing Board of FIAA consists of High Executives of important companies in the country:

Mr. Constantin von ALVENSLEBEN    

CEO of Tirana International Airport, Newly elected President of FIAA

Mr. Elvin GURI                                           

Investor at Telekom Albania, Newly Elected Board Member of FIAA

Mr. Bledar SHELLA                                   

CEO of OTP Bank Albania, Newly Elected Board Member of FIAA

Mr. Rohan D’SOUZA                              

Country Manager of SHELL Companies in Albania, elected in 2019

Mrs. Stela DHAMI                                   

Managing Partner of Colliers International in Albania, elected in 2019

Mr. Xingyun SUN                                    

CEO of Bankers Petroleum Albania, elected in 2019

Mr. Perparim KALO                               

Managing Partner at Kalo & Associates, elected in 2019

The new Chairman of FIAA, Mr. Constantin von ALVENSLEBEN comes with a long experience in airports and aviation, but also in the property development industry. He became familiar with Albania and its business environment since his first position as CEO of TIA during 2005-2007, where he successfully managed the start-up phase of the only Airport in Albania.  In September 2019, Mr. Constantin relocated to Albania to undertake a new challenge as CEO of Tirana International Airport SHPK, this time owned by the Chinese company ”China Everbright” which is based and listed in Hongkong.

During his word the New Chairman thanked the Members of FIAA for trusting and voting for him, and giving him the chance to lead an important association such as FIAA.

With 20 years presence in Albania, FIAA has been and continues to be an important partner for the Government of Albania in the development and economic integration of the country. The Association has consolidated a sustainable co-operation with local and international authorities in the country, positioning itself as part of the various consulting structures focusing on the business climate in the country and absorbing new investments. FIAA counts 80 member companies, among them large international corporations such as Shell, Statkraft, important international banks and experienced property, infrastructure and energy developing companies.

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PERSPECTIVES FROM FIAA BOARD

February 17, 2020
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“EXPECTATIONS FOR 2020”

 

Tom Kristian LARSEN

CEO and Country Head Albania of STATKRAFT/Devoll Hydropower

I encourage the public as well as private sector to push for continuous improvements and implementation of reforms and measures for increasing transparency as well as decreasing corruption and unfair competition. Only by relentlessly handling such endemic legacies can the country truly move forward to realize its full potential for a stronger economy and broader prosperity.

 

Mario BRACCI

CEO of Antea CEMENT

2020 is expected to be another challenging year for Antea Cement. Cement consumption in the domestic market for the past 2-3 years has shown signs of stability accompanied by a modest growth, the company remains optimistic that such trends will remain stable for the year ahead. Nevertheless, the company remains cautious about developments that might undermine the current stability in the market which are related to the liquidity in the market, availability and progress of existing projects, as well as production costs.

Similarly the company will be as well active in the export activities by exporting in the neighboring countries as  well as in the Mediterranean region, however such exports will depend as usual on the on the production costs of the company in order to achieve profitable exports due to high competitive pricing in the international market.

 

Stela DHAMI, MBA, LEED® GA

Managing Partner of Colliers International

From the real estate perspective, year 2020 is a year that will see continuous growth in the tourism sector and more specifically in the hotel subsector of the market. However, the earthquake of 26th of November will have an impact on the desire of new brands to enter the Albanian market and primarily the Durres-Golem area. Interest will increase for the Riviera portion of the coast, but here investments in infrastructure are instrumental in attracting world recognized brands.

Other real estate segments of the market will see change. The office sector will see an increase in stock in the foreseeable future coming from the increased number of office and mixed use buildings being built currently in Tirana, where the main economic activity occurs in the country. The increase in stock will drive downward pressure on real estate rental prices. The retail sector will not see any change as there are no plans for future major retail projects in the country. We will see however the development of big box retail in other cities of Albania to house some of the large space retailers. New retailers that will find the perfect balance between quality and price will be accepted positively in the market by the consumers who in our market are very price sensitive. The residential market will be over saturated given that we already have an oversupply of unsold apartments.  High end residential stock will continue to attract investors in the peripheral areas of the city that attract buyers who are looking for a lifestyle change.

 

Rohan D’SOUZA

Country Chairman of Shell Industries Albania

Shell is proud of the progress we have made in Albania over the last few years. Our strategy is to deliver a world-class investment case, to thrive in the energy transition, and to maintain a strong societal licence to operate. We see signs for optimism in the continuing reform agenda being collaboratively employed by Government and the International Community. We look forward to continuing to work with many Albanian companies and the Albanian Government over the year ahead.

 

Përparim KALO

Founder and Managing Partner of KALO & ASSOCIATES

2020 opens a new decade, so it is not simply a new year, but the beginning of 10 years period of regeneration and healing of sectors of economics and politics and of major events and developments such as the likelihood of opening of negotiations for EU membership, completion of OSCE chairmanship, reconstruction of massive buildings damaged by the earthquakes, etc. These events call for greater involvement of businesses in mobilizing the energy Albanian people have and create more opportunities for using such energy to improve the Doing Business climate. FIAA as a leading business organization will have to play an important role to raise optimism of business community through an open, but very demanding dialogue with the Albanian public institutions, especially with law making and law enforcement agencies.

This year is considered very special because of expected travel to space on the new rover by early autumn, and hopefully will coincide with Albania starting official travel to EU…

 

Xingyun SUN

CEO of Bankers Petroleum Albania

We are expecting the tax regime in Albania can keep stable and all monitoring and inspections from the government or its agency should strictly respect laws and regulations.

 

 

 

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FIAA partners with Tirana Economic Forum in its II edition

January 31, 2020
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The second edition of Tirana Economic Forum, entitled “PATHS TO PRAGMATIC REFORM”, was held on January 30th, 2020, in Tirana.  Tirana Economic Forum is a high-level meeting of the most influential Albanian and international political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges currently facing Albania and the world.

FIAA continued to be the main local Partner of the Tirana Economic Forum by having a high representation of its members and by moderating one of the most important sessions related to the Economic Reforms and Business Environment in the Country. The Session, entitled “Maintaining the reform momentum:  the case for macro-fiscal sustainability and improved investment climate” was moderated by the FIAA Director Ms. Marinela Jazoj and was elaborated among key business Representatives in Albania such as Chairman of Shell Industries in Albania Mr. Rohan D’Souza, the President of the Union of Chambers of Commerce, Mrs. Ines Mucostepa along with other Representatives. The forum was an excellent Networking opportunity and helped to identify and assess key growth challenges and reforms, as well to learn from policy experiences in other countries.

To learn more on the Forum please visit: www.tiranaforum.com

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FIAA’s GET TOGETHER EVENT

December 3, 2019
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FIAA hold its end of year Get Together in late November 2019, bringing together in a very warm atmosphere a large part of the Foreign Business Community, representatives of the diplomatic bodies along with several representatives of the Authorities and state institutions in the country.

The Deputy Chairman of FIAA, Mr. Mario Bracci and Executive Director Ms. Marinela Jazoj expressed some remarks and reflections on 2019 experiences and gratitude to the members who have trusted FIAA along the years and have stayed together for almost 20 years.

Among others, Mr. Bracci stated: “I would like to highlight that Government of Albania should increase the focus on the further improvement of the business climate, putting larger efforts on increasing transparency and decreasing corruption and unfair competition”.

On the other side, Mr. Eduard Shalsi, the Minister of State for the Protection of Entrepreneurship in Albania gave some remarks to the foreign business community and once more expressed his availability to cooperate and assist the foreign business and follow up with their concerns. For Mr. Shalsi it is very important the continuity of Communication with the Business Community.

The Event continued further with business talks among the guests and members and was a good timing to discuss the grounds and ideas for the 2020 Agenda.

 

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IMF Mission – FIAA Meeting

November 8, 2019
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IMF Tax Administration Mission on Medium Term Revenue Strategy (MTRS) visited Tirana during November and meet with FIAA Representatives. During the consultations with the FIAA, were discussed the main concerns and challenges Business is facing while operating in Albania. The main focus the business was giving in the meeting, was also on the progress of tax and customs reform in the country along with some ideas and recommendations they were proposing for improvements in this area. FIAA members in this meeting were coming from various industries, but what they stressed out, was a common concern when it comes with the relation they have with Tax Institutions in the country.

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